Once upon a time, America had a strong president who reassured the American people that, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Once upon a time, America had a strong president who reassured the American people that, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Now we have a weak president who tells us that we must be fearful of all things all the time, using fear as a political pump to inflate his own ego and power. He even color codes fear for us, always keeping the colors flame hot. This summer, he used the scorching rhetoric of fear to cow congressional Democrats, scaring them into rubber-stamping a blatant subversion of our constitutional liberties.

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Fanning the fears of terrorist attacks, Bush stampeded Democrats to rush through a law letting the White House eavesdrop on your and my phone calls and emails without bothering to get search warrants. This new warrantless spying law gives the attorney general carte blanch to order that any of our international calls or electronic messages be monitored if he decides on his own that we might be communicating with someone who might be outside the U.S. who might or might not have even vague connections to some terrorist group.

Yes, this means that our precious privacy is in the grasping hands of Alberto “See no Evil” Gonzales. He can click into entire telecommunications networks to intercept millions of innocent messages without having to show probable cause of illegal activity.

Congress ceded this extraordinary reach to the executive even though there’s a perfectly-functioning, quick-responding court in place to authorize surveillance of legitimate terrorist suspects – and to do it constitutionally. Bush’s law is not about protecting Americans from terrorists, but about protecting the Bush-Cheney regime from the Constitution.

It’s arrogant nonsense for the Bushites to assort that they’re above the law – but it’s shameful cowardice for scaredy-cat Democratic leadership to go along with it.

“The Fear of Fear Itself,” The New York Times, August 7, 2007
“Stampeding Congress, Again,” The New York Times, August 3, 2007
“Wartime power grabs require beautiful sunsets,” USA Today, August 7, 2007
“Bush Signs Law to Widen Reach for Wiretapping,” The New York Times, August 6, 2007
“Wielding the Threat of Terrorism, Bush Outmaneuvers the Democrats,” The New York Times, August 7, 2007

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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